I bought a book from an antique store last month.
It’s a medicinal almanac from the late 1800’s teeming with recipes like cow-heel broth and to my delight a menagerie of herbal decoctions, tinctures, compresses and advice.
As a Naturopath, herbalist and alchemist it is wonderful.
I’m enamoured by the detailed descriptions and preparation of herbs and wild plants to treat all kinds of ailments like fever, the common cold, skin afflictions and inflammation.
It’s a moment in history. A carefully constructed manuscript of foods and herbs to heal and nurture wellness during the rise of conventional medicine. It’s a direct account of the way we once used plants to heal the body, our family and our village.
There’s a world of intrigue in the language of 1865.
You see, 154 years ago herbalism was common place. There were compresses of willow bark for high temperatures and elecampane extract for diseases of the lungs; broths, soups, wines, ciders and medicine for the common folk tending to their home. But for all the charm my heart aches too. I feel grief for the wisdom lost in the century that has followed. We appear to have misplaced our innate sensibility and connection to natural medicine and in doing so, revealed a detachment to Nature and our Selves.
You might argue that you still use natural medicine and that may be true, but in what form? When asked about their health most people answer on behalf of their supplement drawer. A drawer frequently littered with tablets, fads and impulse.
It’s a nothing drawer.
It’s tradition acting as pharmacy.
And it makes me ashamed of what we've become.
I see tradition boxed into a billion-dollar industry; knowledge and wisdom become malice and competition. I call out social media branding and the “next new thing"; I call out private (health) colleges churning out fame-hungry entrepreneurs instead of practitioner's - unable to blend herbal tinctures, prescribe homeopathy or perform Iridology.
I’m not sure what Naturopathy actually is anymore?
I’m facing the grim reality of my industry. I cannot deny the progression and evidence-based approach we’ve adopted since 1865 and I’m not living in a bubble of the past. I mean to say, science has propelled us forward, right? But the year is 2019 and Naturopathy has been ousted by health funds and denied government recognition. In spite of my diploma and degree, and almost 20 years in practice I’m still a witch-doctor in my country. How ironic?
This book has made me accountable to the lineage of healers to which I belong. Healers who go back thousands of years making the past 154 seem very small. In the face of professional derailment my craft matters now more than ever. But Naturopathy is a long way from its traditional roots and that makes me uneasy. There's a broken relationship between our body and the environment that once healed us. I’ve had people shake their maraca’s about the modern age, air-tight medicine, new technology blah blaaaaaah. There's a lot of gloss on labels and brochures these days and it can be hard to navigate the Hype. Especially when the hype is so very entrepreneurial.
I am a Naturopath, but I’m still a student. There’s no retirement in my ‘career’ because as long as people ask to be healed, helped or nourished I will do that. Till I’m dead.
Whether the Government thinks I should or not.
Whether I have 100K Instagram followers or not.
Healing is the environment you create inside your body, cells and your heart. It's the choices you make with your food and your thoughts. It's movement that keeps you strong and agile, and friends who love you no matter what. It's noticing the tree's from your office desk. It's saying sorry and being sorry too. It's the dark and scary alley of life opening out to brilliant sunlight. It's not me, nor what somebody in a bikini on a beach says. It all starts with You - the greatest healer of all. So dig your hands deep into the soil of what Wellness means to you. Sure, take supplements if the need is there, but don't surrender your hopes on them alone - they work better when you do the work too.
I’m proud of what I’ve learned in the years since my degree(s). I’m proud of the elders who taught me, took me in and mentored me. I honour them and the lineage to which they belong too. Humble.
Naturopath | Healer | Clinician | Herbalist | Alchemist | Mother | Business owner | Blah Blaaaaah
Kick the kettle in the guts, we've got Cow Heel Broth to make:
Put a cow-heel into a pan with three-quarts of water, and boil; skim it well, season with peppercorns, thyme, parsley and salt; boil gently for two hours; skim well and serve the broth with the glutinous part of the heel in it. It is very strengthening.
Um, people - BROTH was SO 1865...... bummer they didn't have hashtags back then.